LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– Normally, the approach of the first day of school puts focus on back-to-school bashes and learning essentials, but Dr. Natalie Derouen, a local pediatrician says there’s more to it. She believes that ensuring a safe and successful year begins with their overall health.

Pediatrician Dr. Natalie Derouen with Our Lady of Lourdes Children’s Health says, “Even if they are not having any sicknesses or illnesses, we want to make sure they are doing great in other areas too like their nutrition and physical activity.”

She suggests transitioning your children back into a structured routine. She says having a routine helps the parent feel organized and allows the child to function better during the day and build healthy habits. One suggestion Dr. Derouen made was getting children back into their regular bedtime schedule to prep them for a school routine.

National Immunization Awareness Month is in August which Dr. Derouen says is the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

At the age of four years old, kids typically get their boosters for MMR, Varicella, D-TaP and Polio. These are all shots children got before as babies, Dr. Derouen explained. The shots at four years old are just to boost the immune system.

The same thing happens at age 11, children receive a D-TaP and then they get a Meningitis vaccine, and the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer. COVID shots are not mandatory this school year in Louisiana.

Dr. Derouen says following proper CDC guidelines should help parents feel more at ease with sending their children back to school. 

“Getting the vaccine as well as making sure if they do have symptoms or feel sick that they get tested. Don’t ignore the symptoms, get tested to make sure they are protecting themselves and others too.”

Dr. Derouen suggests parents refer to HealthyChildren.org – From the American Academy of Pediatrics for more tips on how to safely send their child back to the classroom.